Giant Fireworm Pulled from Reef Tank


For years, aquarium keepers have been telling stories that would seem a better fit in an old pirate’s tale than from a reef tank. These hobbyists have reported elusive and giant worm-like creatures that would attack fish, kill clams, and occasionally wander out into the open to sting aquarium keepers working in the aquarium. These huge worms have the typical bristled look of the commonly found bristleworm, but can reach larger sizes and can pack a nasty punch if they touch the skin. While the normal bristlworms stay small and eat detritus and decaying matter, these giant¬†fireworms worms can attack and kill perfectly healthy aquarium life. Despite their size, these giant worms can go undetected for years, often hiding in the rockwork and usually only coming out at night. When a worm such as this is encountered, the best thing to do is remove it immediately. This video comes from our good friend Clint, a local hobbyist who did just that, remove the monster from the tank as soon it was seen. As for the worm’s disposal, that’s really up to the tank owner. Some aquarium keepers banish the worm to the sump, which is obviously the most humane thing to do, but others inflict a little revenge and kill it.

Update: We previous misidentified this worm as a Eunicid, but a sharp AquaNerd reader pointed out that it was probably a fireworm from the genus Hermodice. After reviewing a high resolution photo of this particular worm, we also came to that conclusion and have updated the text above accordingly.


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  • Anonymous

    I’m of the opinion that this is no eunicid, but rather the uncommonly encountered Hermodice. Eunicids don’t have chaetae, at least not so prominently. And I’m not seeing any of the labial palpi that are so obvious in that group. Rather, the pattern of greyish body, reddish parapodia, white chaetae, and overall large size matches up nicely with Hermodice… at least the photos of it I’ve seen. I’ve never actually seen one, as they are rather rare.

    • i actually think you are right. the guy who shot the video also showed us a very detailed image that i looked over this morning. when i first saw the video, the resolution wasn’t all that great and the lighting gave the worm a darker appearance. but going by the image i just saw, i would have to agree with hermodice (fireworm).